He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hearing The Voice of God

         I was talking with a friend this morning about changes they’d like to make in their life. Changes often affect more than just the person who is making the decision.  Depending on the situation, it can affect an entire family and sometimes even several!  It can be a hard decision when it involves more than one person. 

            After the conversation, I was left with prayerful thoughts about options and listening to God’s voice.  It is He who created us to be productive, yet wants us to remain aligned with His will.  We are told in His word “the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice.”  It’s important to separate emotion and self-will, to be quiet and still, to enable us to hear God’s voice through all the other thoughts pounding and clamoring for space in our head and hearts.

            Most of us want to be productive in whatever we are doing.  That’s been the mind set since time began.  In times long past, the pioneers and farmers produced the items they used.  They fashioned farm tools, spinning wheels, leather goods, hunted and grew food; built furniture and created supplies from the lumber retrieved from the forest. As need increased, iron and lead was produced, along with nails, and cast iron cook ware!  Then came automation and mass production, which really changed the complexion of society.

            Creating each of these items before the industrial revolution, took a fair amount of training and experience.  People relied on each other for the goods they could not produce.  They realized if they hadn’t relied on each other, they may have perished.  The same concept can be said about our spiritual life.  When we don’t rely on God we are, in reality, helpless and can perish! 

            When we don’t stay in The Word and prayer, we find ourselves filled with doubts and fears about what we can and cannot do.  We shrink from “what might be” and “what if?”  But God doesn’t want us to be like that.  We were created to hear his voice from the depths of our beings.  He wants to guide us to new heights.  Our new adventures can’t happen or at least be successful, if we don’t put our trust in him.

            God has given us gifts to share, with which to be productive.  Each person’s skill is unique to him, given his personality and how he chooses to use it.  This is true when we minister or when we are in the midst of a giant change of direction.  Often we look at the practical side of things and say, “that just can’t be done!”  But if God is molding us and transforming us to make such a change, we must rely on God to work out the details, even if in our finite minds, it doesn’t seem possible!

            When we see with the “eyes of God” into these situations, we can see God working on us and “growing us” into the persons we are meant to be.  We are made stronger when we recognize we must move forward, but stay aligned with him; and that we are not in control.  It is God.  He can make us fruitful and productive in ways we couldn’t have imagined. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Deceitful Heart

           Because of technology, there are people known worldwide, and immediately recognized, by just saying their first name.  In the sports world is Dale Sr., or Pele.  In Hollywood, there is Iced-T, Charo, Oprah, or Twiggy.  Historically: Galileo, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo. And musically: Elvis, Shania, Bach, or Beethoven. These are only a sampling!

Still others would require a first and last name, like Princess Diana, (not a first name but that is how she was known), Brooks Robinson, Abe Lincoln, FDR, Jimmy Connors, Nadia Comaneci, George Jones, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Landon, C.S. Lewis or Catherine Marshall and a host of others, that immediately upon hearing (depending on age and interest), creates images in your mind of that person or the personality they played on television, what they did historically, song they sang, sport they participated in, or book they wrote.

Each of the people named have left a legacy and definite impressions on those who knew of them.  People either loved them or hated them!  What they did in public, and often in their personal lives, had an impact on what people thought of them!  There are those who project a completely different persona than they are in “real life.”  Their goal is to build a “reputation.”  Sometimes it’s for good, other times not so much!

Our lives aren’t much different.  If someone said my name in a crowd of people I did not already know, it’s likely no one would have a clue who I was!   But it’s what I do around those I know, that will make a difference!  My day to day life should mirror my beliefs rather than trying to be someone (or something) I am not.

There are those who prefer to live in a luxurious home in an affluent neighborhood, drive an expensive car, wear fine clothes and eat only in exclusive restaurants.  Yet, often it is people living on credit!  They don’t really own their house, car or much of what is in it!  They shop with “plastic,” maxing out their credit cards and then getting another!  They want those they know, to think of them as wealthy and well-to-do.

The opposite of those who try to make you think they are wealthy, are those who are well off but live the lives of paupers.  They penny pinch and make us think of Scrooge, denying themselves and their families of what they even need.

Our spiritual life is often another area where we project images that aren’t always true.  We attend every service at our local church, are active in meetings and events as they arise within the congregation.  We teach Sunday School classes and workshops, and tithe regularly.  We volunteer our time whenever we can, yet this is all a fa├žade.  Our relationship with the Father is sparse at best.  We seldom pray and read our Bible so rarely we brush off the week’s worth of dust since the last time we carried it with us to church.

Why do we do this?  Who suffers?  Every person who willfully is an “Outward Christian only,” suffers hugely!  We’re not only deceiving others; we are deceiving ourselves.  We need to look inward at our “deceitful heart” and make immediate changes.  Our eternal destiny demands it!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Faith Is Not A Spectator Sport

Because football season is over and racing hasn’t yet begun, for those who prefer these sports find this an “off weekend,” so we wait for the next "sports weekend!"  Others are deeply involved in basketball or depending on where you live, some other kind of outdoor, winter sport, like skiing, skating or another extreme competitive sport.

Sports are a big deal in our lives.  There are all kinds for the various, different seasons. Many sports “seasons” will overlap another, and when a person (or family with several children) are involved in more than one sport, it can be a very busy time!  Yet, there are the families who may not be actively involved in any sports, but are merely ardent spectators. 

I remember a time in our own family when my husband would have the television on, watching several football or baseball games by constantly changing channels (depending on the time of year), while listening to the radio to a NASCAR race!  When the race was on TV, then he’d would listen to the radio to a baseball game he wanted to hear, but not televised. 

            I admit, I am more of a spectator than a participant when it comes to sports, and have never really been competitive.   I have only one recollection of playing a competitive game, way back in elementary school.  It was actually during a gym class where we were playing football. The ball was thrown and I was in the right spot to catch it.  It was an awesome catch and all I could hear was, “run, run!”  I did….. but…. I ran the wrong direction!  I was horribly humiliated and embarrassed!  From then on, sports just didn’t appeal to me! I became a spectator of sports, rather than a participant!

            The sad thing is however, we often treat our faith as a “spectator sport,” as well! We attend church, perhaps even a Sunday School class.  We attend the business meetings and social events, but never really participate beyond that.  We rarely open God’s Word during the week and there is never time for prayer, because we are so busy working, taking care of life, and being active as a participant (or spectator) in our favorite sport!

            The world has convinced us our value is based on what we can accomplish on “the field” against a physical team.  It’s all about the trophies and money we can make.  Granted most who read my words are not being paid for playing sports, but it still holds great value to be the team with the most wins for the season!  It offers “bragging rights” if nothing else.

            Many of our young ones become involved in competitive sports while they are still in grade school.  I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t compete. It is great exercise and a confidence builder.  But there are times when the competition goes beyond what the child wants.  It often becomes a competition between the adults; to the point of anger and hostility on the field between parents, when the game doesn’t go the way they like!

            How much more important is our participation in our faith?  The competition we face against our fellow man is just that; a competition that lasts for a moment.  The competition we face between our faith and Satan and his demons is a struggle for our eternal resting place.  When we “cave” and give in to just being a “spectator in our faith” we are strengthening the opposition in Satan.  We weaken our ability to stand strong against the world’s evils. 

            I challenge you to reflect on whether you are a participant or a spectator in your faith!  Which are you?  Do changes need to occur?